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Only At The Dome


Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports



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So it can't host NFL games and it's likely to come down at some point sometime. But, damn it all, the Carrier Dome is still one hell of a place.


Or maybe it's more like THWACK...THWACK...THWACK...

Hmmm? Well, however it technically sounds, I LOVE that sound! Those snare drums pounding away throughout the Carrier Dome before kickoff or tip-off. But it's really the first few thumps that get me. The other instruments join in, and they're apart of it all. Yet, those first waps of the drum, man, are all I need. It's like the rumbling of the calm of a mostly empty dome before the storm of another football or basketball game. For whatever the reason, that noise is forever in my mind.


Marching bands, of course, are the soundtrack to college sports, heard at all levels of play at all stadiums and arenas across the country. But there's just something different about that drum in the dome, piercing the silence and reverberating around the concrete blimp. It's one of those noises that can send you into a wormhole of memories the second it rings in your ears.

THUMP...That night Dwight Freeney continued his assault on the single-season sack record against B.C.? It seems like the last winnable Big Game at the dome.

THUMP...the crowd rushing in to grab a seat before Gerry McNamara's home last game. Such a strange setting.

THUMP...The way it felt before No. 1 Miami took the field. The last of the true Bad Guys in football.

You can definitely hear this sound elsewhere, but you can't hear it anywhere else like you can at the dome.

You can definitely see sports elsewhere, too. But you can't quite see them like you can at the dome either.

Frozen. Dome.

That's center ring! That's where John Thompson Jr. was ejected! Where Hoyas and Blue Devils and Johnnies and oh so many others were knocked out. But for about 24 hours, the court became a rink and it was stunning to see. Who cares if you don't know a lick about hockey, the Frozen Dome experience was a must attend or, at the least, a must catch on t.v.

And it captured our attention because it was at the Carrier Dome. Putting down a rink at a regular arena, even one that houses football and basketball, wouldn't be too over the top, right? But putting that ice down underneath the big ol' bubble? Well, that changes things.

For football, there are flaws, but when the place is packed? It's on its own level. And don't even get me started about how perfect a setting it is for big-time basketball.

Now, this isn't another love letter to the Carrier Dome. I've done that before, I know. This is mostly just a reminder that the Carrier Dome, the "it's too big," "it's too tiny," "it's too hot," "it's too cold," "there's no parking" football stadium that may be best as a basketball arena, or vice versa, is still one helluva place to be. And that was certainly on full display when the Syracuse Crunch, and company, took over.

(Okay, so maybe it is another love letter to the dome. But it's not a petition to keep it, it's just a refresher for anyone who may have forgotten its value. Yeah. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. )

Everything looks impeccable -- a credit to the staff of the dome, of the crunch, and to the setting that is the Carrier Dome.

So the NFL says the old girl isn't up to snuff? Like Sean writes, does that even matter? The technology and the "wiring" aren't sufficient enough, evidently. It sounds damning, but it's really not.

You're telling me, on the off chance an NFL team gets snowed out of its home once every thirty years, the dome won't be an option for said NFL team? Who. Cares. Hardly the straw breaking the camel's back. The Carrier Dome's death is coming, but the cause will certainly not be Roger Goodell's passing it over for one random game.

The death certificate will list all the other issues, some of which I mentioned, most of which I don't even have the space here to list. But the end is coming and it will bring some crazy new stadium/arena/hybrid. It'll make some fans happy and other fans angry, but eventually it'll fit. Eventually.

Which is fine.

That's for then, for now we have the ice being cleared out, another round with Duke coming, and who's ready for lacrosse to get back into the national swing of things? And there will certainly be other attractions, eye-catchers coming, too. I know my son Brady and I have plans to check out the monster truck show there -- a pretty crazy event in its own right. I mean, they clear out the dome and bring in tons of dirt and big monster trucks to rip around in there!

It's all apart of the sights and sounds that the dome offers. Creating and also triggering memories for all of us.


That's one of mine. But whatever the memories are, maybe even the "clink" sound of a puck hitting the post, they're certainly special to you. And they're unique to the Carrier Dome.



One Day, Five Days Long


Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports



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One day could have changed everything, but instead just reinforced everything.

I don't want to write about hospitals in the same way I don't want to go to hospitals, but sometimes you have to do both. Trust me, though, a week ago, going to one wasn't my choice.

First, a disclaimer: Typically, I devote this space I'm so fortunate to have to something Syracuse related. Of course, that's not always the case. Okay, so it's really not always the case. But USUALLY I'm good to keep it on point with Orange basketball, football or lacrosse.

But  not this time.

Last week a routine procedure on my throat (done to clear away a stricture), one my doctors say they do over 7,000 times a year, one that typically lasts eight to ten minutes, ended up sending me to the hospital for about five days. Actually, it ended up sending me to two different hospitals. It was "life or death" but to what level of "life or death" I don't know, if that makes sense. Either way, it was too close to the "D" word for me.

"You need to get to the emergency room right now. People in your condition could get very, very, VERY sick."

I only call the on-call doctor because my wife keeps pestering me to do it. She knows something is wrong; I'm dubious, or scared. I do call, though, and he tells me my routine procedure actually may have ended up puncturing or even rupturing my esophagus. It doesn't matter that it's seven o'clock at night or that nurses I spoke to on the phone told me all day long that the pain I was feeling was normal. Nope. When the doc says you could be on the verge of something bad, you go, you go now.

A surgical tool wasn't left inside my body. It's not like I had a second to live or that I was bleeding to death from the inside out. Me? I was diagnosed with a small hole right near my lungs on the left side of my body, and I would eventually learn it was probably caused by a tube doctors used to dilate my throat. Scary? Oh yeah. Potentially deadly? Yup. Cool sounding? Nah.

Which figures, really. Of all people, I would be the one taken out by a tiny tube during a outpatient procedure done thousands of times a time across the country. Seriously, I was in the waiting room looking around at the clientele of this private practice before I went under. Grandmas: check. Middle aged men and women: check. Wealthy looking: check. Non-wealthy looking: Check. The old and the young were all there and they all went into a similar room as I did and they all left and carried on with the day, with life.

Not me.

One week ago today, my life for the time being flipped upside down.

After talking to the on-call doctor some seven hours after the procedure in Syracuse, my wife, son and I rushed to the hospital in Watertown. Outside of an ambulance transfer to St. Joe's in Syracuse, that warm Tuesday evening would be the last time I would feel the outside air until the following Saturday night. Actually, even though I was kind of confident I wasn't dying, when the Emergency Room doors slid open that first night, all I could think about was, Am I ever going to be able to leave this place?

A handful of extremely long days later, where I would have up to three roommates and dozens of nurses to meet, I obviously did leave (St. Joe's). And even though I'm nowhere near 100 percent, I'm much better than I was just about seven days ago. Sure, had the doctors not made a mistake -- one they defend as nothing more than "this stuff can happen" -- I would have never had the pain, the nausea, the endless days and nights in that hospital bed, the time away from my wonderful son Brady, the wondering if I would need invasive surgery, the thinking about death. The sight of my wife wedged into a make-shift bed of two chairs that had as much cushion and give as marble counter tops.

That image is something I'll never forget. The entire time, from entrance to exit, I will always remember how Sarah McClusky did what she had to do to stay by my side. Always there.

I couldn't get out of bed without help -- IVs and antibiotics making my life even more miserable than the pain in my throat or the fear of the unknown. No matter the time of day or the time of night, she was quick to her feet to move me and the subsequent machine that became a part of me. Once up, she guided me to the bathroom -- the only place I was allowed to walk to and from, and even that was in question by nurses. If I was looking to "freshen up," Sarah had my deodorant or tooth brush and tooth paste (God, how incredible it was to be able to brush my teeth. A relatively annoying practice became the highlight of my days).

Rubbing my hands, asking if I need anything every ten minutes, getting me tissues, asking if I need anything, eating in the cafeteria so I wouldn't be jealous because I was on a saline-exclusive diet, asking if I need anything....

Doing EVERYTHING at the house since we've been home, making sure I take all of my (disgusting) medicine now, asking if I need anything...

Spousal duties, maybe.

But Sarah wasn't just there as a literal crutch or some kind of aid to the temporarily handicapped. She took charge of everything, of everyone. It's funny, too, because I usually am the one telling her to calm down or "dial it down a notch" when she gets worked up. But without Sarah's talking to the doctors, talking to the nurses, writing down questions, things would have been worse. It's true because it's amazing how information from one doctor becomes something totally different in the hands of his or her colleague.

She was making sense of the nonsense. Not because some business had overcharged or because a store wouldn't honor some coupon -- the typical situations that get her goat -- but because Sarah was looking out for me. One doctor says I can but the other doctor says I can't? She'll figure it out. I try to convince her that I can eat solids sooner than she thinks? No dice, she isn't having it.

I'm smiling typing this as she lays next to me on the couch, thinking about her raising her voice at a doctor who was raising his voice at her. One loudly talking, but not shouting, over the other. She wasn't trying to show him up or pretend she knew this topic better than him. She was just pointing out: someone is telling us something wrong, now you go figure out what is right before we go any further.

And the doctor listened and I benefited.

This all isn't just because she's my wife, it's Classic Sarah, fighting/working for the people she loves. The perfect daughter, sister, wife and mother to all in her family. And I couldn't be more thankful. It's why I'm better now. Because without Sarah being there then, being here now, without her love, those five days in the hospital could have been even longer. Or worse, I may never have gone to the hospital last Tuesday in the first place.





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We're back, everyone!

After a little more than two years away, Matt Mc's Sports Fix is rebooting and is ready to bring you coverage of North Country sports. In fact, we are here to be your source for Frontier League sports, Watertown Red and Black and Rams coverage, and, of course, Syracuse Orange discussion.

Also, each morning Fox Sports 1410 will air North Country ScoreCenters: I'll have updates on what happened on the courts and fields locally and a preview for what's on tap tonight.

And then there's the Sports Fix - airing Friday mornings from 7 to 9. We will put a two-hour spotlight on the players, coaches and media that make up North Country sports. Plus, as always, I'll mix in a few opinions and we may even break news every now and again, too. But above all, the Sports Fix is here for you, so let us know your thoughts via email: and Twitter: @matthewmcclusky!

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